02/03/2012 4:36PM

Fair Grounds: Mister Marti Gras targets Mineshaft

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mister Marti Gras is being pointed to the Feb. 26 Mineshaft Handicap.

Another player in the older male dirt division is waiting in the Fair Grounds wings. The steady Mister Marti Gras worked five furlongs in 1:01.60 Tuesday morning and is likely to make his first start of 2012 in the Feb. 25 Mineshaft Handicap, trainer Neil Pessin said.

“That’s what we’re aiming for now,” said Pessin, “though we might also enter the Fair Grounds Handicap as well.”

The Fair Grounds Handicap is on turf, and Mister Marti Gras would probably start in that spot only if rain moved the race to dirt.

The 5-year-old Mister Marti Gras won two Grade 3 races during 2011 and ended his campaign with a decent fourth in the Grade 1 Clark. He won a Fair Grounds allowance race late last meet, demonstrating an affinity for the local dirt surface.

Pessin also said that Suntracer, who finished unplaced as the strong favorite in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley on Jan. 25, had come out of that race with an ulcerated eye. Suntracer won’t resume training until a special clear-cup blinker can be obtained to protect the eye from further damage.

Sprint races co-featured Sunday

A pair of dirt-sprint allowance races with $40,000 claiming options – one for Louisiana-breds, the other an open race – highlight a nine-race Sunday card.

Race 2, the Louisiana-bred spot, might be dominated by trainer Tom Amoss, who sends out a Midwest Thoroughbred-owned coupled entry of Ide Ball and Southern Dude, both of whom can win. Ide Ball, a 7-year-old, raced for a claiming price as low as $10,000 last fall, but has won four straight races while rising in class. Jan. 15, he set the pace and gutted out a narrow victory over open second-level allowance rivals, and Ide Ball could control the early pace on Sunday.

Southern Dude won the first three starts of his career last year while racing for trainer Roger Brueggemann, but he has since lost three in a row while failing to show much improvement upon his initial efforts. Southern Dude’s most recent start did come on turf, and he may appreciate returning to the main track.

The open second-level allowance, race 4, features the streaking Wash Park, already a three-time winner at the meet. Wash Park was claimed by owner Keith Plaisance and trainer Ron Faucheux out of a $25,000 conditioned-claiming win Dec. 4, and has since won another conditioned claimer and an entry-level allowance. He will try for his fourth straight victory against six rivals in what appears to be a wide-open six-furlong dash.